Ministers and high-level officials from 45 countries in the Asia-Pacific region jointly committed themselves on Nov. 29 in Bangkok, Thailand to intensifying prioritized actions towards realizing women's rights and fundamental freedoms in order to create an equal future.
The Asia-Pacific Declaration on Advancing Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment: Beijing+25 Review was adopted after intense negotiations at a three-day ministerial conference, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the U.N. Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
Armida Alisjahbana, U.N. under-secretary-general and executive secretary of ESCAP, said: "The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is an opportunity for us to take stock of our progress and accelerate efforts. I am delighted member States from across Asia-Pacific have seized it and agreed an ambitious forward-looking Declaration which strengthens the region's commitment to action on gender equality and women's empowerment."
Meanwhile, Anita Bhatia, U.N. assistant-secretary-general and deputy executive director of U.N. Women, declared: "The significance of this region being able to adopt this Declaration today, which articulates clear and strategic actions to be taken to address the gender agenda, cannot be overstated."
While Asia and the Pacific have made remarkable advances so far, the Declaration notes several emerging megatrends slowing the progress of gender equality and women's empowerment in the region, such as climate change, intensifying disaster risks, growing digital divide, rapid urbanization, rising inequalities within and between countries, and increasing acts of violence and extremism against women of all ages.
The Declaration recognizes women as key contributors and vital agents in combating poverty and various other inequalities, and calls on governments to ensure inclusive social protection systems, public services and infrastructure.
With its adoption, the signatories have also committed themselves to ensure women's economic empowerment and the integration of women into the formal economy. Governments agreed to take appropriate measures and extend legal and social protections to ensure that all women and girls have equal opportunities for education, decent work, favorable conditions of work and financial inclusion.
They also made a commitment to work together with key stakeholders to transform negative gender norms, discriminatory social attitudes and to eliminate structurally unequal power relations that persist between women and men.
They additionally highlighted the need to strengthen gender-responsive national statistical systems and data collection for an enhanced understanding of gender gaps in the region.
ESCAP was also urged to continue serving as a regional and sub-regional platform to promote greater dialogue and cooperation among countries. The Declaration mandates ESCAP, in collaboration with other U.N. agencies, to support relevant national institutions in monitoring and implementing the global Beijing Platform for Action commitments.
The Declaration will serve as the regional input to the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on the global review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in New York next March.